Helen Clark: Inside Stories

Claudia Pond Eyley & Dan Salmon

Robert Muldoon was terrifying, terrifying if you were a young politician . . . a very, very sharp tongue and ruthless. He was prepared to say anything! When you looked at how he turned on Colin Moyle and destroyed his career, it was pretty sobering. He didn’t play by any rules. – Helen Clark


We went to see Helen, there were five of us, we went to see her in private. It was totally upfront, we said, ‘Helen, we just don’t think you can do it, look at how we’re polling, look at where we’re going.’ . . .  She was determined to stay there. – Phil Goff


The first six years were frankly very hard, to the point that I thought in the run-up to the 1987 election that if I wasn’t going to be able to go a step higher then I might be gone at the following election. If you are not going to be able to fulfil your aspirations in a career, you are better to go do something else. – Helen Clark


New Zealand’s first elected woman prime minister; nine years in power through Afghanistan and Iraq, the ‘Corngate’ and ‘Paintergate’ affairs, the foreshore and seabed turmoil; head of the UN Development Program and ranked among the most powerful women in the world. Helen Clark’s public life is well known. But what about the inside stories?


During 2012–2013, documentary-makers Claudia Pond Eyley and Dan Salmon interviewed a host of participants about the life of Helen Clark: Clark herself and her family, political friends and enemies, mentors and staffers, journalists and lobbyists. The resulting transcripts from those interviews, woven together here into a compelling narrative, offer a brilliantly multi-faceted, inside account of Helen Clark’s life and career.


From her father George Clark to friend Cath Tizard, Richard Prebble to Jim Anderton, Winston Peters to Don Brash, Jacinda Ardern to John Key, Helen Clark and her contemporaries bring to life the tumultuous life and times of one of our most important political leaders.


Through the words of the players themselves, sometimes raw, sometimes angry, we find ourselves taken inside the major political developments of the last fifty years. This is a frank, revealing account of Helen Clark and her world.



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Claudia Pond Eyley is a visual artist and film maker. She studied at Elam and has lectured at the University of Auckland. She is the author, with Robin White, of 28 Days in Kiribati (New Women's Press, 1987) and Protest at Moruroa (Tandem Press, 2006) and her documentaries include Departure and Return: The Final Journey of the Rainbow Warrior.

Dan Salmon is a multi-award-winning director and producer of documentary (Made in Taiwan, Here to Stay) and drama (Licked, The Day Morris Left). His documentaries have screened on TVNZ, ABC, Al Jazeera and EBS in Korea, and at festivals in Tahiti, Canada and the United States. Pond Eyley and Salmon’s documentary Helen, for which the interviews for this book were made, was screened on television in August 2013 and December 2014, as well as at the 2014 Documentary Edge Film Festival.


October 2015, 228 x 152 mm, 328 pages, b+w illustrations
Paperback, ISBN 978 1 86940 838 1, $39.99